A FORMER mayor and Shropshire councillor for Wem says people will be forced to ‘pay to pray’ if controversial parking charges are approved.

Charges will increase by 20p in Wem and are also planned to bring in payment for Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Pauline Dee BME stepped down from Shropshire Council in 2021 and attended Monday’s meeting to put forward a request that Wem be classed at Band 7 – with villages such as Gobowen – instead of nearby Shrewsbury and Whitchurch at Band 6.


Mrs Dee added that she feels it will have a detrimental effect on people in Wem who attended churches and in general.

She said: “Everything is Shrewsbury-centric – it was all to do with big towns and Wem is a small town.

“We don’t have the tourists and we need to bring people in and the largest employers have all left.

“The town doesn’t have the footfall like they do in Shrewsbury.

“I just find it really sad.

“Previously, Sundays and Bank Holidays were free so it’s feeling like it’s ‘paying to pray’ and it’s going to affect a lot of people that go to different churches.

“All of the people who go to the Baptist and Methodist churches have to pay because they don’t have car parks.

“The only time the town car park is full is for special events, and there was one argument that it’s to stop residents parking in there overnight but that doesn’t happen.

“They’re killing off market towns.”

In her question to the Economy and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Mrs Dee called on free parking for Wem given its day-to-day status.

However, Councillor Dan Morris, Portfolio Holder for Highways, says the new charges were created through an algorithm and were ‘fair’ for a town with retail and dining opportunities.

He said: “Charging for parking on a Sunday as well as the general increase, will generate a contribution to maintaining and improving car parks.

“Numerous requirements have been identified countywide, prioritising those with the greatest need.”

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Mrs Dee, in a fresh email to Shropshire Council following Monday’s meeting, added: “They do not take into account our close proximity to the out of town shopping at Shrewsbury and Whitchurch which offer free parking and more retail variety which residents in our town and hinterland are tempted to drive to for their shopping.  

“The lack of a large local employer is also not taken into account.”

The changes will now be referred back to the council’s cabinet, which will discuss three recommendations made by the committee.